2014-01-02 / Sports

Golf director excited about new course developments

By Mike Spencer
Of The Enterprise staff


CHRIS MCCANN, director of golf at the new Northport Creek Golf Course, stands in front of the construction sign near the corner of Eighth and Warren streets. The course is scheduled to open in July. CHRIS MCCANN, director of golf at the new Northport Creek Golf Course, stands in front of the construction sign near the corner of Eighth and Warren streets. The course is scheduled to open in July. Opening day is still six months away, but Chris McCann is eager to see the first round of golf at the new Northport Creek Golf Course.

“It’s been cool to see your job revolving around and being built,” said McCann, the director of golf at Northport Creek Golf Course. “I was a little skeptical about whether we’d be open by this coming season, but it’s gone well and we’re still on schedule as long as Mother Nature cooperates.”

The nine-hole golf course, designed by Lansing’s Jerry Matthews, is expected to open the first week of July. Developers plan to make it the first solar powered course in the country.

“It seems like it’s a ways off, but there’s much to be done between now and then,” said McCann, a manager at Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern for the last 12 years. “Once the snow starts to melt I’ll start getting more excited.”


NEW GOLF director Chris McCann holds his bag in front of the new clubhouse under construction at the Northport Creek Golf Course. NEW GOLF director Chris McCann holds his bag in front of the new clubhouse under construction at the Northport Creek Golf Course. The clubhouse, just south of the course entrance off Eight Street near the village dump, is currently under construction and should be finished early April.

In the meantime, McCann has been busy working on researching membership and daily rates, establishing course policies and procedures, creating marketing material and a Facebook page, putting together a calender of events for the course and dealing with product vendors.

McCann, who is the Leland boys golf coach and varsity boys basketball coach at Northport, lives on Fifth Street near the club’s maintenance building. He bought the house in 2007, but had no plans of getting into the golf business at that time.

“I don’t know if it was destiny or serendipity,” McCann said. “But it’s not often that work comes to you.

“I didn’t know that there was going to be a golf course built on this farm (old Mervau property) at the end of my street.”

After the ground-breaking began on the golf course, McCann worked last summer as the assistant pro at the Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms in Bingham Township and worked one day a week at the Leland Country Club.

“My experience in the golf industry is fairly new and limited,” McCann admitted. “I worked both jobs last summer because I felt it was important to see both the public and private side of the golf business.”

McCann said he was looking to get out of the restaurant industry, but still wanted to be in customer service. Now he has a dream job.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with and around people,” he said. “It’s what makes going to work interesting.

“I was getting back into playing golf and saw a connections between the two industries. The only thing that could top it would be a job at Augusta National.”

McCann, a Northport graduate, grew up playing at Matheson Greens in Leelanau Township.

“Being a part of golf returning to the Northport community is special,” McCann said.

Bill Collins, a spokesman for the developer Northport Creek, LLC., is glad to have McCann on his team. Collins said course superintendent Brad Krolik suggested McCann would be a good hire.

“Both Brad and Chris are the perfect pair. They are young Northport guys who give you a feeling of ownership and that combination is a huge plus and unbeatable,” said Collins, noting there were some other candidates but they did not live in the area.

Collins said he had hoped that the clubhouse was already up, but at least the foundation was in place.

“Even with the snow, we’re very excited about what is happening,” Collins added.

The course will have a small clubhouse for product and snacks.

McCann also has plans to start a junior golf program on Thursdays and have junior tees available.

“Sometimes kids are forced to play the ladies tees and it’s just too long for their ability, especially beginners,” McCann said. “I also want kids to be able come out and play and not feel pressured that they aren’t playing fast enough or good enough.

“It takes time and patience to get good at anything and that’s what we want to give these kids.”

McCann said he expects the course to become extremely popular with residents and vacations alike.

“Our goal at Northport Creek is to make the game of golf both fun and affordable, especially for those that live in our community,” he said.

McCann said rising costs, the time it takes to play a round and the difficulty of newer courses have hurt the golf industry.

“Being a nine-hole facility we can eliminate some of those issues that people have and make their golf experience more pleasurable,” he said. Northport Creek will also offer six-hole rounds for people that don’t have the time or energy to play more.

“Jerry Matthews did a great job designing a challenging, yet playable course for golfers of all ages and abilities,” McCann said.

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